Home Visit Revolution

Awakening Protagonists for Kosen-rufu

SGI-USASenior Vice General Director Tariq Hasan encourages members in San Francisco, Aug. 9. Photo by KINGMOND YOUNG.


With “home visits” and “personal encouragement” as the bywords for the SGI-USA in 2019, this World Tribune series features SGI-USA leaders who discuss their personal experiences of being home visited, home visiting others and the lessons they’ve learned.

by Tariq Hasan
SGI-USA Senior Vice General Director

In the spirit of “Thus I heard,”[1]”Thus I heard” refers to the Lotus Sutra’s opening line, “This is what I heard” (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 3). Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings were spread orally and later compiled by his main disciples. “This is what I heard” expresses the struggle of the disciples to grasp the essence of what the Buddha taught. I always ask myself, What is SGI President Ikeda’s key guidance to keep foremost in my mind and practice? I have a list of five points so that I can remain centered, and one of them is the spirit to treasure the person in front of me.

Whether it’s for a few seconds, minutes or more, Sensei pours his whole life into the person he’s with, as if it’s the last time he may have to encourage them. On one occasion, he was speaking with a young men’s division member while waiting for a VIP guest to arrive. Even though his staff kept alerting him that the guest was almost there, Sensei continued to encourage this member until the final moment, and then seamlessly turned to greet the guest as he stepped out of the car. I will never forget that moment.

Q: What are three things you keep in mind as you prepare for home visits?

1) The most important thing is to create an environment where there is a sense of equality. Although there might be things we want to convey to the individual during the home visitation, it should not be in the spirit of a senior member coming to speak to a junior. Sometimes members feel they’re being home visited because they have done something wrong; this is part of our culture that we definitely need to change.

2) I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that the person I’m visiting feels comfortable enough to share anything about their life or their practice that may be troubling them or holding them back.

I also assure them that anything they share will be treated with utmost confidentiality.

3) I greet the family, thank them for allowing me to come over and try to make time to see if they, in addition to the person I’m visiting, have any questions or concerns. This is especially important if the family members don’t practice Nichiren Buddhism.

Q: What is most important in doing home visits?

To give the person we’re visiting confidence to overcome whatever difficulties they have through strengthening their faith, practice and study.
In addition, based on President Ikeda’s essay “Expanding the Ranks of Our Youth,” (March 14, 2008, World Tribune insert):

1) I try to help them deepen their bond with the mentor. Have they ever written to Sensei? Do they report their victories—both personal and organizational? Often, I hear members say, “Sensei is too busy to be concerned about me.” This attitude reflects a lack of belief in ourselves, which is in direct opposition to manifesting our Buddhahood.

2) I try to ascertain if they are truly chanting to the Gohonzon with determination and appreciation, both of which are such crucial parts of our practice that are often forgotten.

3) I encourage them to believe that they have an extremely significant mission that only they can fulfill. Due to a lack of self-belief, members often belittle the importance of their own mission.

Q: Is there anything you do after the home visit?

I keep a list of people I have recently visited or given encouragement to, and do my best to stay in touch. If they’re very sick, I’ll follow up to see who can support them. If they’re struggling to find a job, I’ll ask them to check in with me as often as they want until they can find a job. Ultimately, I support them through my prayer.

Q: What is the goal of home visits?

I strongly believe that members can win if they have a sense of mission that their victory will be the mentor’s victory. If their prayer is connected to kosen-rufu and winning with the mentor, who is leading kosen-rufu, then all the benevolent functions of the universe can come to their aid.
The essential goal of a home visit is to help the member be victorious and become a person who helps others, rather than someone who’s always seeking help. In other words, to become a protagonist for kosen-rufu. WT

Notes   [ + ]

1. ”Thus I heard” refers to the Lotus Sutra’s opening line, “This is what I heard” (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 3). Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings were spread orally and later compiled by his main disciples. “This is what I heard” expresses the struggle of the disciples to grasp the essence of what the Buddha taught.